City of Klamath Falls and Klamath County road crews have been out in full force treating the roads and working to restore transportation around the area after Tuesday’s dumping of 8.1 inches of snow.
The National Weather Service’s Medford office is warning that although the snow will taper off tonight, temperatures will plummet into the low teens overnight and drivers should watch out for black ice.
The weather service expects some on and off snow showers through the night but for it wind down by Thanksgiving morning.
City of Klamath Falls Street Manager Chuck Cox said they have been working at a level three and level four, according to the 2019 Snow Plan, with level four calling for full city plowing.
Downtown snow piles
Cox said they plan to remove the piles of snow accumulated downtown by the plowers on Saturday as they monitor the snowy and icy conditions forecasted for Thanksgiving and Black Friday. The level five city crews will transition to on calls Saturday for clean-up utilizing travel loaders, dump trucks and sweepers. He said they’ll get to it on Saturday before expected rain on Monday so that the piles don’t turn into even more of a mess.
City crews ran operations until 11 p.m. last night, Cox said and then came back at midnight and worked until 6 or 7 a.m. today.
According to the snow plan, the city crews’ first priorities are the main through roads and hospital areas, followed by collector roads which connect residential areas to through roads and hills, and lastly crews work on secondary roadways and residential areas.
County road crews hit the streets at 4 a.m. this morning and can work until 4:30 p.m. today. If more treatment is needed, county crews will get back out there at 4 a.m. Thanksgiving day morning, according to county road superintendent Ralph Brown.
Brown said their main priority is the major roads to get into Klamath Falls and will spread out from there. He said they’re fully staffed to get roads plowed and sanded by this afternoon before crews have to call it a day.
Brown said they're running 13 sand routes and 7 cinder routes for the higher elevations in the county.
Klamath Falls and Klamath County may also see some delays in their waste collection, according to the Waste Management website, but the next service day crews will collect twice the trash for no extra charge.
For Klamath Falls and Klamath County residents the waste management service alert states, "Due to weather and safety issues, WM was not able to service all customers. If we were not able to collect your materials, please leave carts at the curb. As conditions allow, we will collect materials missed on storm days – no extra charge.”
Pacific Power customers, at one point totaling as many at 19,000, lost power over night but spokesperson Spencer Hall said most of it was restored by about 10 a.m. this morning.
About 1,500 customers, mostly in the Crescent area, remain without power Hall said around 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Pacific Power had crews assigned before the winter weather season hit to be ready to restore service whenever it went down.
Klamath Falls Police Department responded to just over 20 crashes yesterday, Captain Ryan Brosterhous said, although more were reported, but the department had to prioritize calls that posed safety risks and met its criteria.
A few city and county vehicles were also involved in some crashes, with one out-of-control car hitting a KFPD car near the Pacific Terrace area, injuring an officer. The officer sought medical treatment for minor injuries and is fine, Brosterhous said.
He said conditions like this require a “coordinated effort” between law enforcement agencies, city and county road crews and ODOT and fire and EMS services.
Brosterhous said the first snow of the year always seems to cause the most chaos due people being less prepared and not allowing for extra travel time. Still, this storm was particularly hard for the first of the year as we “went from dry roadways to a winter wonderland.”
Brosterhous asked people to consider limiting travel to only what is necessary and to stay off the roadways as much as possible.
Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Manager Brandon Fowler also said that people shouldn’t travel if they don’t have to and that speed is often a factor in the crashes that have occurred.
“First and foremost if you don’t have to travel then don’t. If you do, please be patient and go slow, allow road crews to do their jobs, please be aware of others around you who may not be paying attention,” Fowler said.